Curiosities

Over the centuries, if not eons, the Camp Verde area has seen its fair share of unusual happenings. Read about the iron meteorite discovered in an abandoned pueblo, the Legend of Sierra Azul or its landscape of ancient inland lakes and volcanic upheavals.

  • Camp Verde Meteorite Open or Close

    Camp Verde Meteorite-150x150In 1927 a pot hunter named George Dawson was digging through a ruin in Camp Verde when he came upon a stone burial cyst. When he opened it he discovered a feather blanket. Wrapped within that blanket was a 135-pound iron meteorite, since known as the Camp Verde Meteorite. Dawson eventually sold the meteorite to the famous meteorite collector H. H. Nininger. When Nininger's collection was sold upon his death, the iron meteorite ended up at Arizona State University, where it has remained since. Scientist studying the meteorite believe it is a fragment of the same meteorite that formed Meteorite Crater outside Winslow. But how the object ended up in a pueblo along the Verde River and why it was found wrapped in a feather blanket remains a mystery.

  • Geographic Center Open or Close

    Camp Verde Center of Arizona-150x150As part of Arizona's 2012 Centennial, the Arizona Professional Land Surveyors conducted a study to determine the Geographic Center of Arizona. They concluded it was located just south and east of the confluence of the Verde River and East Verde River. After making the exact determination, the APLS decided to award an official designation of the municipality closest to the center. On April 1, 2012, with a proclamation from the governor in hand, representatives of the APLS held a ceremony at Rezonnico Family Park, officially declaring and bestowing bragging rights as the center of the state to the Town of Camp Verde.

  • Kingdom of the Spiders Open or Close

    KoS-150x150In 1976, actor William Shatner, along with cast and crew, filmed the Sci-Fi cult classic "Kingdom of the Spiders" in Camp Verde. Shatner played a veterinarian who becomes concerned when a local farmer's prize calf dies from a massive dose of spider venom. He soon discovers the deaths are caused by swarms of migrating tarantulas, which eventually turn on the good folks of Camp Verde as they set about casting their web across the landscape. If you have seen the movie you will recognize the backdrop.

  • Land of the White Rocks Open or Close

    Camp-Verde-formation-150x150While Sedona is famous for its red rocks, the landscape surrounding Camp Verde is known for its stark white rock. Those rocks form what geologist call the Verde Formation, a layer of sediments roughly 40 miles long, 20 miles wide and nearly 2,000 feet thick, laid down by a shallow lake that once spread across the valley floor.

    Geologist estimate the lake, dubbed Lake Verde, was a feature on the landscape 10 million to about 2 million years ago. It is believed the lake formed atop the graben, a keystone shaped slab of crust, that forms the valley floor and descended to its current elevation as the graben subsided and began forming the valley. The evaporite minerals that make up the Verde Salt Mine as well as a gypsum mine in Camp Verde  formed when the lake dried up and left behind white minerals.

  • Lunar Landscape Open or Close

    Camp-Verde Lunar Landscape-150x150On a 35-acre tract of land between Camp Verde and Cottonwood, Apollo astronauts found a suitable place to train as they prepared for their historic trips to the moon. The story began in late 1969 when NASA concluded that its Cinder Lakes Crater Field outside of Flagstaff was unsuitable once the snow began to fly. Searching for a new training site, they came upon a broad alluvial plane washed down from the Black Hills. NASA eventually turned it into a reproduction of Fra Mauro, the lunar landing site for the ill-fated Apollo 13. It was later used for the Apollo 14 crew as well as a testing site for the lunar rover. Today the remnants of those craters are slowly filling with sediments and small forests of young mesquite trees.

  • Mastodon Open or Close

    mastodon visit-camp-verde-arizona-150x150In 1980 a group of Northern Arizona University students and their instructor were searching for fossils in the Verde formation when they discovered the remains of a stegomastodon near the Clarkdale Cement Plant. By all indications the animal died on the shore of ancient Lake Verde about 2.5 to 3 million years ago.

    The discovery of the mastodon and the unearthing of mammoth bones in Camp Verde, along with numerous discoveries of footprints left by ancient horses, antelope, camels and saber tooth tigers, are proof that the valley was a haven for some of the more familiar megafauna that roamed the earth during the Pliocene era.

  • Montezuma Well, The Bottomless Abyss Open or Close

    montezuma-well-150x150A study conducted by the U. S. Geological Survey concluded that the water entering Montezuma Well comes from the Redwall Limestone Formation, 750 feet below the Well's surface. But for years visitors believed the Well to be "bottomless." Their conclusion was based on both fact and fiction. A doctor assigned to Fort Verde in the late 1800s found bottom at 65 feet, but embarrassed because he had rounded up several hundred feet of rope to send to the bottom, instead soaked it all and returned to the fort to announce it was "bottomless." The 19th century journalist claimed to let out 380 feet of rope without hitting bottom. And modern scientist had been unsuccessful in their attempts to find bottom when probing the two vents that feed water into the well. Furthermore, Yavapai and Apache stories tell of their emergence from the underworld into this world, through Montezuma Well.

  • Tee Pee Rocks Open or Close

    Tee-Pee-Rocks-150x150Located one mile down Fossil Creek Road, off State Route 260, the Tee Pee Rocks are formally known as the Cottonwood Basin Fumaroles. The conical formations formed when ash from the nearby Hackberry Mountain volcano fell on calcium-rich waters of Lake Verde. When the calcium contacted the hot ash, it formed a cement-like material that resists erosion. The distinctive pockmarked holes in the cones formed when water eroded the base of the cones as they were slowly exposed from beneath the surrounding landscape. Geologist believe the fumaroles formed about 7 million years ago.

  • The Legend of Sierra Azul Open or Close

    The Legend of Sierra Azul-150x150The Legend of Sierra Azul is the tale of a mountain with fabulously rich deposits of gold and silver. The story was first chronicled in 1661. Over time the location of the fictitious 'Blue Mountain' shifted from New Mexico to Baja California. But there is plenty of evidence to show the legend may have been a corrupted narrative of early Spanish expeditions to the Verde Valley, between 1583 and 1605. The accounts tell of the blue, mineralized deposit of copper that would one day make the community of Jerome one of Arizona's wealthiest mining camps.

  • The Valley’s Ghost Towns Open or Close

    jerome-150x150The nearby town of Jerome has made a living out of being, arguably, Arizona's most famous ghost town. But at least six other communities, once large enough to warrant a post office, no longer exist. Cienega and Rutherford, both south of Camp Verde, Aultman, on the road to Cottonwood, Montezuma, located at Montezuma Well, Verde/Clemanceau, which was absorbed into Cottonwood and Equartor Macdonald, below Jerome, are among 275 communities in Arizona that disappeared from the territorial landscape.

  • Volcanoes Open or Close

    Camp Verde Valcanoes-150x150The Verde Valley and the surrounding landscape of central Arizona has seen more than its share of volcanoes of the last few million years. Southeast of town, on the far horizon is Hackberry Mountain, a volcano with a checkered past. Part of its like it was a viscous, silica rich and highly explosive volcano, capable of eruptions on par with Mt. St. Helens or Mt. Vesuvius. North of Camp Verde along Page Springs Road is House Mountain, a shield volcano similar to the ones currently forming the Hawaiian Islands. And atop the Mogollon Rim on the northern rim of the valley and the Black Hills looming to the south are the remains of the Mormon volcanic fields and the Hickey Formation, lava flows laid down between 3 million and 13 million years ago.